Eyes of the World Nature Immersion
Eyes of the World Nature Immersion was founded in January 2019 by Dawn Jenkins. Dawn had previously founded a successful nature-based program and decided to use her 20 years of experience working with children and teachers in outdoor settings to branch out and create her own program. Eyes of the World Nature Immersion (EOTWNI) offers a wide range of experiences, including a fully outdoor, roaming preschool in local forests, afterschool programs on school grounds, summer camps, school consultation, outdoor classroom design, child-led curriculum, and teacher trainings. We spoke with Dawn to learn more about her program and any lessons she's learned that may help other nature-based preschools.
What is your mission for Eyes Of The World Nature Immersion?
My mission is to provide quality education and play, teacher trainings, and consulting enveloped in nature. My goal is to empower children to become creative, independent, critical thinkers. Through outdoor play, children develop self-esteem, a sense of purpose, and the ability to overcome obstacles, while organically developing learning skills. Eyes of the World Nature Immersion engages children in exploring the natural world while encouraging their sense of wonder and nurturing their own agenda. Teacher workshops and school consultations guide educators and schools on how to integrate nature and outdoor play into their curriculum.
What about funding for your programs? How do you get the word out?
Funding is provided through tuition and consulting fees. I also started a Go Fund Me to finance the start-up fees that include my liability insurance policy, supplies, and professional development training. I primarily use my website and social media to help me get the word out. Through photography and journaling, I am able to share snips of my time in the forest with the children.
Can you tell us more about your roaming forest school model? How were you able to secure a liability insurance policy?
Several days a week I offer a small roaming forest preschool (7 spaces) that utilizes different locations within the state park and land trust. I want the children to become familiar and comfortable with each location while keeping in mind the impact that we have on the land so I rotate the locations monthly. Parents drop their children off with me at the trailheads, dressed appropriately for the weather and we head out to explore. The diversity at each location, including forest, field, waterfront, vernal pools, waterfalls, glacial boulders, and historical sites provides a rich learning environment for the children.
Eyes of the World Nature Immersion has a land-use agreement with Great Works Land Trust that owns sixteen forest properties throughout York County in Maine. Under this agreement I am able to utilize various locations for my programs. In turn, I am involved in their education committee and donate a portion of my proceeds to their foundation.
In order for EOTWNI to go under agreement with the Great Works Land Trust, I needed to secure an insurance policy. My brother, Joshua Bender, works for Eastern Insurance so I contacted him for guidance. With my business model and the unique and diverse programs I offer, there was no set policy to really draw from so we had to get creative. We started with a basic outline of a summer camp policy. From there, after receiving rejections from the underwriters from two different companies, Berkeley Aspire, who specializes in early education insurance, was willing to take me on. They were able to place coverage for the "roaming preschool" aspect and added Great Works Land Trust and Vaughn Woods to the policy. Berkley Aspire has expressed interest in writing similar programs and Eastern Insurance can guide through the process with relative ease. If anyone is interested, Joshua can be reached at 774-271-2903.
How do you hope your program looks in 5 years?
In 5 years, my goal is to offer youth programs several days a week, with mornings reserved for forest preschool and afternoons spent in local elementary schools. The remaining days will be left open for office time and appointments for school consultations, etc. Another possibility would be to work within my school district as the nature immersion specialist, meeting common core and STEM outdoors. Additionally, I have 6 years of journaling, photos, and video documentation that I will be turning into a 4 season curriculum box and possibly an educational documentary!
You can get in touch with Dawn at [email protected] or by phone at 207-393-0054. Find Eyes of the World Nature Immersion on Facebook, on Instagram (@eyes_of_the_world_nature) and at http://eyesoftheworldnatureimmersion.com/